Alumni Spotlight

UT Tyler Soules College of Business

Name: Clay Parks
Degree/Degrees: BBA Finance
Year of Graduation: 2009


Clay Parks

Tell us a little about you.


My name is Clay Parks. I’m married with 3 children and currently living in Northlake, TX.
What did you do right after graduating?
I graduated in the fall of 2009, into the Great Recession. I had an internship in the spring and summer
with a local wealth management firm called Bridge Wealth Management. They liked my work and gave
me an opportunity come and work full time after graduating. I worked as an investment analyst under
the CIO, John Sokol CFA. There I gained experience working with multiple asset classes and a variety of
different financial products. It was a great role given the breadth of experience I gained right out of
school.
Tell us about your current job and what you do.
Currently I work as a corporate/municipal credit analyst for a life insurance company called Liberty
Bankers Life Insurance Group in Dallas, TX. We have approximately $3.5bln in assets and currently
operate as a 4 person investment team. Insurance companies are the primary buyers of corporate
bonds.
My corporate credit coverage areas include tech, media, consumer staples, consumer discretionary,
paper/packaging, and chemical sectors. I also cover taxable municipal issuers across the country across
all municipal sectors.
How did your Soules College of Business degree help you with your current position?
My classes helped to give me a base of knowledge that I have been building on since I graduated. From
the Principles of Finance course to Business Law and back. The skills I learned there have been my
foundation for every role I’ve had since graduation.
What was your favorite Soules College of Business class and why?
My favorite class would have to be either FINA 4310 Management of Financial Institutions, or FINA 4330
Security Analysis and Portfolio Management. Being in school during the Great Recession (a banking
recession) was interesting as we were studying the causes of the recession. Dr. Shin taught the banking
class and I can still remember my group presentation on the fall of Lehman Brothers.
Security analysis and portfolio management, we participated in class competition with mock investment
portfolios. The exercise was really the first time I began to study how financial markets moved in price
and value.
Any Soules College of Business/ UT Tyler memories you would like to share?
Well, I did meet my wife while attending school which has left quite a lasting impression on me, haha.
On that note, I always liked the people at UT Tyler. From the business school to the athletes to my
neighbors. I’ve been around a lot of people before and the quality of people I met in my classes and
through fellowship at student events were something I will always be reminded of.
Were you involved in any student organizations while a student here?
When I was at UT Tyler, I was also the President of the Financial Management Association. One of the
projects we did as a student group was to help improve financial literacy. We reached out to a local
wealth management professional, who offered his time to come and speak at our event. The event was
focused on helping non-business school students improve their financial literacy in the areas of personal
investing. We also collaborated with another group on campus, called SIFE at the time, to provide an
incentive to improve attendance (Chick-fil-a sandwiches as a surefire way to help improve that number).
What advice would you give current Soules College of Business students?
Develop good working relationships with your classmates. Your network is very important after you
graduate and you never know what path your future may take you.
I learned how to study while I was at UT Tyler and it really helped me after I left. Dedicate yourself while
you are there and take in everything you can. College only happens once for most of us.
What insight do you have for Soules College of Business students that are about to graduate on how
to land their first job?
Don’t lose sight of the long term goal. As I made career decisions on jobs with different roles and
different companies, I always asked myself, “is this going to help me get to where I want to be?”
Don’t be afraid to take short-term pain to reap long-term gains in your career. After graduation, I
studied for the CFA exam which took 3 years to complete. At that time, the exams were held only on the
first Saturday of June. This meant every Memorial Day weekend, my friends all went off to enjoy the
long weekend while I stayed home to study and take practice exams. I spent more hours at the public
library studying than I did in the Robert Muntz Library on campus when I was there.
Lastly, seek out a professional mentor to help guide you and keep you on track through your
professional career and development. It may not be a distinct/formal program, and doesn’t necessarily
need to be